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A Tricky Two Way Street: The Correlation between Depression and Obesity

| Date Posted: 5/7/2012 | Author: Mandy McCue

Depression defined:

Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans annually. Depression is classified as feeling sad, unhappy or miserable for an extended period of time. There are different types of depressive disorders that fall under the umbrella of depression. There is major depression, dysthymic disorder, minor depression and bipolar disorder.

  • Major depression is a combination of symptoms that interfere with daily life; it is disabling and prevents an individual from functioning normally. For example, the ability to work, sleep, eat or enjoy pleasurable activities.
  • Dysthymic disorder is characterized by long-term symptoms. This is not disabling but it can prevent normal functioning or feeling well.
  • Minor depression is characterized by having symptoms for two weeks or longer that don’t meet the full criteria of major depression.
  • Bipolar disorder also referred to as manic-depressive illness.  It is characterized by cycling mood changes from extreme highs to extreme lows.

Depression is a common but serious illness. If you feel that you or someone you know may be experiencing depression, please seek help. FirstHealth Behavioral Services offers a wide range of treatment and counseling services.  Depression, in most cases, can be controlled with proper support.

The depression rate in the United States has nearly tripled over the last two decades. One in every ten Americans is depressed. The cause of depression isn’t exact. Many factors can contribute to an individual’s depression. On many occasions depression can stem from a trauma or loss, physical or sexual abuse, difficult relationships or any stressful situation. According to Psychology Today obesity is also a potential factor in depression. Obesity: Obesity is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat. This is tested with the Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI scale compares your height and weight and ranks it on the scale. A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight, 25-29.9 is considered over weight and any BMI over 30 is considered obese. In 1997 America’s obesity rate was 19.4%. Over the years, it has been steadily growing at an approximate rate of .7% a year. Between 2007 and 2008 the rate jumped an outstanding 7.2%. The amount of adults in the U.S.who are considered overweight or obese is now to 35.7%. (Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention) Obesity is known to reduce life expectancy and cause other serious health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and some types of cancer. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four cases of obesity is associated with a mood or anxiety disorder, such as depression. Which came first?
Understanding that the rates of depression and obesity have both been increasing every year, is there a correlation?According to Dr. Floriana S. Luppino of Leiden University Medical Center, “obesity increases the risk of depression in initially non-depressed individuals by 55 percent and depression increases the risk of obesity in initially normal-weight individuals by 58 percent. “Obesity can cause low self-esteem and social isolation, which are known contributors to depression. A study in Cincinnati found that teenagers with depression were more likely to become obese within the next year. Depression causes individuals to over eat or make poor food decisions, avoid exercising and become more sedentary, which are the causes of obesity. It is still unclear which one affects the other most, but there is a definite correlation between depression and obesity. A study by John Dixon, MBBS, FRACGP, shows that people who underwent bariatric surgery for their obesity found that as they started to lose the weight, their symptoms of depression decreased as well.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital has partnered with Pinehurst Surgical to establish a comprehensive Bariatric Surgical Program that offers resources for weight loss and weight loss surgery for the Pinehurst, Sanford, Raeford, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Troy and Rockingham regions of North Carolina and beyond. Free weight-loss surgery seminars are offered bi-monthly on the first Thursday and the third Monday of each month in Pinehurst, NC.  Call (800) 213-3284 for more information or click here to register.

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